One Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary order says in director Pedro Kos’s award-winning documentary Rebel Hearts, “What does Mary have to do with revolution? Only everything. I can’t believe that the mother of God wouldn’t be as concerned as a mother could be about the problems which brought her son to earth.”

Therein lies the seed of why, in 1960s Los Angeles, a group of nuns chose to take a stand on social issues, and fight for their own autonomy and freedom from an oppressive, controlling church hierarchy built entirely around giving men all the power. It is a story that many might not know, but that had a lasting and permanent impact on the Catholic church. These women took vows to commit to a life of service and a love of God. Rebel Hearts shows that needn’t and indeed shouldn’t mean total subservience and blind adherence to what the controlling patriarchy of the church leadership demanded of them. Essentially these women were saying they were servants of Christ, not slaves of the church.

In 1960s LA, an order of nuns called the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary rebelled against the demands of cardinal James McIntyre and, by extension, the entire Catholic church. They had been directed that all the sisters of the order were required to teach wherever they were sent, without teacher training, and without pay. They were also expected to pray together at specific times every day, and wear a habit, traditional clothing that set them apart from the outside community.

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